Posted by: j☆ | March 27, 2011

My 2011 LA Marathon race report — a.k.a. I freakin’ love LA even when it’s raining cats and dogs!

I can hardly believe that just one week ago, I ran the 2011 LA Marathon. Man, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

After winning a free entry from Salonpas in mid-February, I had only gotten in about one month’s worth of “proper” training…luckily, I am a fairly consistent runner and had been in decent running shape, so I didn’t feel too bad about my abbreviated training. Still, it had been 4 years since my last full marathon in Tokyo, and 14 years since I last ran the LA Marathon, so I really didn’t know when to expect to finish. I mainly just wanted to go out there, enjoy the Stadium-to-the-Sea course, and have a good time.

Special delivery from Salonpas! In addition to a free entry to the 2011 LA Marathon, Salonpas sent me some swag. Thank you, Salonpas, for the swag and samples, and most importantly, the experience of a lifetime!!!

The day before the marathon was a busy one. I headed out to the LA Marathon Expo with my boyfriend to pick up my race bib, goodie bag, and collect free samples and coupons at the numerous booths set up at Dodger Stadium. I also picked up a variety of Gu energy gels in a variety of flavors to use on race day — these would prove to be some of the best investments I made before a race! At the expo, I ran into a Twitter acquaintance, professional sports photographer Rich Cruse, and saw American 50K record holder Josh Cox live in person. No photos as Rich was busy in the middle of taking photos at the Save Your Soles booth, and Josh was busy talking with some people at the K-Swiss LA Marathon merchandise booth. Maybe next time!

The name is Avocado. Jamie Avocado. 😉

From the expo, my guy and I headed down to the OC for a birthday dinner with his family. By the time we headed back to LA, it was way past my bedtime but luckily I was expecting not to get much sleep on the night before my big race and had slept well on Friday night instead.

After sleeping mayyyyybe 4 hours, I woke up at 3 a.m. and was relieved that there was no sound of rain falling. When I ran the inaugural Tokyo Marathon in February 2007, I awoke to a torrential downpour (no joke — the rain was coming down in sheets! I seriously contemplated skipping the race altogether but of course I’m glad I didn’t). That morning I knew exactly what kind of day I was in for.

I slathered on Vaseline and sunblock (just in case the sun graced us with an appearance — this is LA after all), made my last-minute outfit choice (layered wisely, thankfully, as it would be wet and cold and increasingly so as the race wore on), and gathered up my pre-race essentials including my traditional peanut butter-banana-and-honey sandwich that I would have with my complimentary cup of hot Don Francisco’s coffee later at Dodger Stadium. After stressing a bit that I hadn’t left early enough and that I’d miss my 4:30 reservation for the shuttle buses in Santa Monica, my wonderful boyfriend dropped me off at Main St and Pico at 4:25, and I had no trouble immediately boarding one of the many buses ready to head for the Start Line. As soon as the bus was full and everyone seated, my shuttle bus took off on the 10 freeway toward Downtown and Elysian Park.

I arrived at Dodger Stadium just before 5 a.m. and immediately jumped into the long line for free coffee so I could visit my best pre-race friend Andy Gump. (All you runners know what I’m talking about!) I basically arrived 2.5 hours before the start of the race and it was a bit overkill. However, it was reeeeeeeally nice to experience such a rare calm inside Dodger Stadium before the race. It.was.freezing.cold.though.

Dodger Stadium at 5 a.m. on Sunday - so peaceful


After freezing for a while in the corridors of Dodger Stadium and wandering a bit, I realized the tents used during the Expo were available for a bit of shelter from the wind/cold. With so many bodies, it was nice and toasty inside. Could've used a bit more light, but then again the dim lighting _was_ conducive to resting before the race.

After killing some time by visiting with Andy twice, checking my bag, and resting in the warmth of the expo tent, the sky started to get lighter, and I decided it was late enough to call my mom. My dad apparently wasn’t up yet. She wished me well, told me she/they loved me, and that they’d be watching the Marathon on TV, looking out for me on the telecast juuuuust in case. 🙂 Earlier in the week, my mom had come down with bronchitis and wasn’t in any shape to be out on the race course that day, otherwise she said she wanted to be out there cheering for me. That is all I needed to hear and I knew she and my dad were running alongside me in spirit.

As I was one the phone, I watched the sky over Dodger Stadium get lighter. It would only be a short while before the pre-race festivities were underway, and I’d be running the LA Marathon–in the pouring rain!

Some fat raindrops fell before dawn, but otherwise, the clouds held fast as the sky grew lighter.

I managed to find some of my friends who would be running their first full marathon, and we all hung out near the 13:00 mile marker. I had decided to start off slow as I didn’t want to start the race too fast and end up losing steam midrace. I wanted to see how far back I could push “the wall” and so I began at a leisurely pace that would warm up my body before I settled into my usual pace. I pretty much started the race cold in an effort to conserve energy for the long distance ahead.

Chaos before the start of the race!

Ominous clouds

Hanging out with high school friend Christina -- about to run her first full marathon -- so proud of her!

After some pre-race ceremonies, the race got underway at 7:24 a.m. Some 26,000 registered runners set out on a course that would wind up being the Noah’s Ark experience of a lifetime. Some have called the conditions on Sunday a monsoon. Personally, I think it was more like a hurricane. 19,866 runners (12045 male / 7821 female) crossed the finish line. Markos Geneti broke the course record by more than a few minutes (which is huge in long distance running!) by clocking in with a time of 2:06:35 — and it was his very first marathon! Hundreds dropped out of the race, hundreds were treated for hypothermia, and hundreds more never even set foot onto the course due to training injuries. Somehow, despite my meager training, I managed to run the fastest marathon of my 16 years of long distance running!

Herded toward the Start Line of the 2011 LA Marathon!

Glad this one turned out blurry...some guy ran the marathon in his Superman underoos and cape!

Hm…and we all were soaked by the end of the race. I wonder how Superman fared? :O

My results:

Absolutely thrilled with my results considering the conditions. New PR, running in the city I call home.

I didn’t expect to run the best marathon of my life thus far on Sunday, but I did it! I managed to conserve my energy in the first half of the course, run efficiently, and fuel and rehydrate effectively. I did want to enjoy the course as much as I could so I wasn’t speeding my way through. I slowed down a number of times to catch up with some of my friends who came out to cheer along the race course despite the horrendous weather conditions (KIMBERLY, JAMIE, JAMIE’S COUSIN, and CARLOS, YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!) and of course to give/get a kiss from my wonderful, supportive boyfriend (I LOVE YOU, FERNANDO! ❤ ❤ <3) who waited for me with his cowbell and posters at miles 5.5, 12 and 20 (his posters ended up disintegrating in the rain, sadly). One stop at a portapotty near mile 10 took up a good 15 minutes of my time. 😦 Perhaps if the weather wasn't so wet and if I hadn't made that one pit stop where it took forever to get into a portapotty, and even longer to peel my sopping wet clothes off and get them back on, I might've been quite a few more minutes faster. But oh well…I'm saving that PR for another day! 🙂

I ran a stronger, faster 2nd half of the marathon than first half. Naturally, the last 3-6 miles were the toughest, but the last 5k in particular was the quickest 5k-at-the-end-of-a-full-marathon I'd ever run! It was totally mental at that point — I knew I could never forgive myself if I walked with only 3-4 miles left to go, so I just kept my feet going, focusing on keeping my stride short and foot turnover quick. Plus, from past experience running in the pouring rain, I knew that if I slowed down to walk, my body temperature would drop and I’d be miserably cold. So I simply kept going. Strangely, I never hit an actual wall = that point where your feet just won't cooperate with you anymore no matter how well you try to reason with them, entice them or plead with them. During the Tokyo Marathon, my wall came early and it came HARD. In that race, I was already slowing down at mile 16, and by mile 21, I recall being done running at all. Not this time! Miraculously, I had this wellspring of energy that kept my furnace fired up and legs moving…and I have to credit it to proper pacing, fueling, and not to mention, the support of my wonderful friends and loving boyfriend who kept me pumped up and looking foward to seeing them at each pre-planned meeting spot!

Still early, still dry, somewhere in Chinatown, so at about mile 2.

My favorite photo -- coming out of Beverly Hills into Century City, at about mile 18. Thoroughly soaked by this point, but LOVING IT. This is me CONQUERING THIS RACE!

Arsenio Hall-fist pump at the VA (not intentional!). 🙂 Starting to feel a bit of fatigue, but still determined to finish strong. Had just come from seeing two of my friends and boyfriend at mile 20 so riding high.

As far as fueling, I took a Gu at mile 6, mile 11, ate a banana and a bite of a peanut butter/honey sandwich at mile 12, had more Gu at mile 16, a tangerine at mile 20, and more Gu at mile 21. I hydrated regularly with water and Gatorade throughout the course. Suffice to say, I was a hun-gray and thirs-tay little runner! Thank God for Gu! Also, thank God for the Salonpas pain relief spray at mile 19! The only thing really bad that I can say about running in the rain and cold is that I wasn’t able to take many photos once it started to rain steadily. I had my iPhone wrapped in a plastic baggie, and I kept it there for the first half of the race, handing it off to my boyfriend at mile 12 so it wouldn’t wind up destroyed. Same as in Tokyo. I would’ve loved to have taken more photos during the actual race itself especially as LA boasts a "landmark at every mile", as well as of my #1 cheerleader, my boyfriend with all of his lovely signs…the first one was super cute (<3 you so much, boo!)! Oh well. Perhaps next year?

Keeping my eyes LOCKED on the prize coming down the final stretch on Ocean Avenue. Fighting the whipping wind and rain, cold and exhaustion, but running as fast as I could. Finish Line seemed to move back a foot every step I took, but was determined to keep running nevertheless!

Ran the last 500km with all the last little bit of energy I had left in my being, so naturally, I jumped for joy across the finish line. I felt like a million bucks and I think this photo shows it (unlike like the poor woman in blue who looks like she's about to collapse!!)!

Not the prettiest picture I've ever taken, but definitely one of the proudest. I am a bad mamajama--and don't you forget it! 😉

Despite of the rain (or perhaps because of it!), I had an awesome time running LA. Nothing can top running in the city that I grew up in IN A FREAKIN’ HURRICANE, surrounded by the people that I love, along with 19,865 of your closest fellow running maniacs. I even got a high-five from Twitter buddy and KTLA 5 news anchor Chris Schauble, who I discovered in front of Hollywood & Highland! 😀 However, I think the true rock stars of the day were the hundreds of volulnteers who stood out along the race course distributing little cups of water and Gatorade, spraying my legs with Salonpas pain relief spray (omg, my knees totally thank you girls!), and handing out oranges/bananas/Clif energy shots! I tried to make my thank yous as sincere as possible to those individuals from whom I took water/Gatorade, but I truly wished I could thank each and every single volunteer for braving that weather. And of course, I owe my utmost gratitude to my friends who came out to support me in the rain — seriously, you guys and gals made this run SO special for me! I LOVE YOU GUYS!

What I love about participating in marathons is that each race is a journey, and each runner has a story to tell. Thanks for letting me tell my story and share my amazing day with you here.

By the way, if you think I was kidding about the rain or if you don’t remember what the weather here was like one week ago, click here to view footage posted on YouTube, courtesy of the @lamarathon. (Luckily, conditions didn’t get THIS bad until after I crossed the finish line!)

Now, for my next race…OC Marathon, anyone? 🙂

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Responses

  1. Wow, I’ve been reading so many crazy LA Marathon weather stories in the blogosphere… AWESOME job and congrats on your PR!

  2. Jamie!! I couldn’t have put the experience any better. You captured so much of the day, the emotions of the race, and the weather conditions perfectly. Happy I was able to make the wall of pictures. So happy I was able to find you and spend a few minutes with you. I knew once we crossed that finish line, I wouldn’t see you again; and I was right!

    Congrats Jamie on your race! You did great! And that video, took place around 1pm. Poor David was out there with Brianna. My poor family.

  3. Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your race report! Your shot of Superman reminded me of some guy wearing a skimpy outfit with a tutu. Seeing something funny like that helps with the “pain” of the later miles!

  4. Great race report! I ran LA last year, so I can well understand the whole waiting 2.5 hours just to get started. I ended up trying to nap in one of the tents on the hard floor. Good job on persevering through the rain. I was following the race on Twitter, and it seems like it was very miserable out there (and strangely enough, it made me want to actually be out there with you guys!).

    Oh, BTW, that guy in your finish photo looks like he’s at a complete stop right before the finish line. WTH?? Haha!


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